Javi's Cafe, 1.

Submitted by Kyleigh on Wed, 01/01/2014 - 05:15


I’ll never forget the day I met Emily, because that’s the day my world began to change. Perhaps I should say it’s the day the world began to change for all of us who lived near that little street corner in New York City, tucked away between Central Park and the Hudson River. It was the only quiet part of town I passed every morning when I rode from my apartment to school. On the ground level of a rickety old building was a café that had been for rent for three years. It was run-down and abandoned. Sometimes, when I had a few spare moments, I would stop in front of the window and try to see in through the ads and handbills that were plastered all over the windows. All I ever got for my effort was a dirty face. The “To Rent” sign was faded so much you had to look hard to even know it was there. The awning above the street stretched out over the sidewalk, but it was so old the original color was impossible to discern and it was so full of holes that it offered no shelter during even the mildest rain shower, as I knew from experience. The paint on the door was chipped and every so often the window in it was broken in by a rock and then repaired in the night. That was just the outside – the inside must have been ten times worse from however many years of abandonment.
But one autumn morning when I biked past, the paper that had covered the windows had been torn down and the glass was clean.
I looked behind me and took a mental note of it, but had no time to stop and stare. In the blur of classes, rehearsals, studying, and practice that made up the rest of my day, I forgot all about the change. It wasn’t until I rode home that evening, mind and body exhausted, that I remembered. I skidded to a stop in front of the door and peered in through the little window. Inside, a small woman was on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor. Beside her, a young girl knelt, holding a dirty rag and copying the woman’s every move. I moved up toward the window, but my bike tire caught on a rock and it clattered to the ground, me with it.
I stood and dusted myself off only to find the little girl looking out the window, pointing and giggling, her large brown eyes scrunching up as she laughed. The woman turned and saw me and I nodded to her, then bent to pick up my bike and the books that had fallen out of my satchel. Just as I was climbing back on my bike, the door opened.
“Who are you?” a little voice asked.
I turned to see the girl peeking out, the woman standing behind her.
“I’m Walter – Walter Eliot. I – I hope you don’t mind – I saw this place was different this morning when I rode by and I stopped for a closer look.”
The woman shook her head. “I don’t mind. I’m glad people notice – we’re hoping to start a café.”
“I’ll spread the word when I can,” I said. “And hopefully find time somewhere to stop by regularly myself.”
“Thank you!” The woman said. “By the way, I’m Emily, and this is –”
“Emanuela Marie Jackson,” the girl piped up. “She’s my mama.”
“Well, Emily and Emanuela Marie Jackson, it was a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to seeing you again soon – but I really must get home now – I have so much to do before classes tomorrow.”
“’Bye, Walter!” Emanuela called as I rode away, and I heard Emily laughing. I thought about them as I turned the corner and rode to the end of the block, then parked my bike and walked up three flights of stairs to my one-room apartment.
The two didn’t look anything alike. Emily was petite, with chin-length straight, blonde hair. Her skin was as fair as her hair, and her eyes were bluer than anything I had ever seen before. On the other hand, Emanuela had not only a Spanish name, but a Spanish complexion to match it, with brown curls and pale brown skin.
I shook my head. They’re a mystery I’ll have to figure out another time, I thought, then turned my attention to music history, harmony, and composing until I fell asleep at my desk.

Every evening after that, Emanuela was always watching at the window at six-thirty, waiting for me to ride by. Most days I couldn’t stop to talk, but would still wave as I rode by, always noting the progress Emily had made in fixing up the place. The windows were now sparkling clean, the door had a fresh coat of paint, and the inside was also getting a makeover. Sometimes when I had a few extra minutes and stopped to talk, Emily would offer me a muffin, pastry, or cup of tea. They were always delicious, but she would never let me pay her for them. Emanuela demanded I call her “Ema,” and always asked to be tickled. I could never stay long, but those few minutes always did me good in my long days of studying and practicing. School was busy and with a few exceptions, neither I nor anyone else had time to relax in the midst of classes and rehearsals. I had a few friends but we didn’t have a lot of time to hang out and talk, even on weekends. Most of the time I didn’t mind, since I liked being by myself. But here and there were people I wanted to know more – like the cellist I’d accompanied last month, the man getting his master’s in composition, the other choir accompanist… and Clara, the pretty flautist in my music history class.

As Autumn wore on, the awning was replaced. With it came a new sign outside and tables and chairs inside. And then one evening Emily handed me flyers to put up around town as I rode to school, announcing the presence of Javi’s Café.
“No grand opening?” I asked, but there were more questions than that in the back of my mind. Who was Javi? Was he the reason for Ema’s complexion?
Emily shook her head. “It’s only Ema and me. We can’t make enough to have a grand opening. But we still wanted to spread the word.”
“I’ll most certainly do that for you,” I said.

A week later, the sign in the window was flipped over and at last said “Open.” I used every spare moment that day to get ahead on homework so that I could stop in for longer than a few minutes that night, and the work paid off.
Ema was there to greet me as usual, and Emily smiled as I stepped inside.
“I can stay a bit longer tonight,” I said. “And next week is Thanksgiving break, so I can stay for even longer then.”
“Yay!” Ema cried.
I pulled out my wallet. “But now that you’re open for business, you’ll have to let me be a paying customer.”
“I guess I’ll have to, Mr. Eliot,” Emily said, laughing. “What can I get you tonight?”
“Those mini quiches look fantastic. I’ll take one of those and a cup of tea, please.”
I looked up at one of Emily’s chalkboard signs, noting the price and pulling the money out of my wallet. “How was business today?”
“Slow.” Emily shrugged. “But it was the first day, so I wasn’t expecting much.”
I searched her face. “But you were hoping for more than you had today.”
She bent to pick up the quiche, hiding her face. “Yes, we were.”
“I’ll remind folks at school tomorrow, and anyone I see on the street.” Any opportunity to talk to Clara, I thought. And others, I added quickly.
“Thank you, Walter. You’re helping so much.”
I sat down with my quiche and tea, looking out on the quiet street. “How’d you pick this place?” I asked.
Emily shrugged again. “Only place we could afford, I guess. It had always been our dream to start a café in New York City.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Our? Your and Ema’s?”
Emily’s face softened. “No,” she said, her eyes looking far away. “Mine and Javi’s.”
“That’s for some other time.” Her hands were playing with something, and for the first time I noticed she wore a ring on her left hand.
I nodded, not wanting to push Emily, but my curiosity was piqued.
“But I will tell you,” she said. “It was our dream not just to have a café for food, but to make friends. New York is so disjointed and we – I – didn’t have support when…” She shook her head. “I just want to get to know every one of our customers. I want to be there for people when they need it.”
I smiled. “I’ll join you in that endeavor, when I have the time. School keeps me so busy; I don’t like it. Well, I like my studies and the music but there’s just no time for anything else.”
“You’ll pull through,” Emily said. “Let us know if we can help.”
“I will.” I stood and picked up my bag. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Ema ran to me and clung to my leg, looking up at me with her big brown eyes. “You’re leaving already?”
I picked Ema up and looked at her eye-to-eye. “I have to study tonight.”
“Can’t you study here?”
I smiled. “Maybe sometime. Not today.”
“What do you do when you’re not here?”
“I listen to the voices in my head,” I said, running my finger down her nose. “But not the way most people do. I write music.”
“Will you play it for me sometime?”
“Yes, I will.”
“Yes, Emanuela Marie Jackson, I promise.”

Author's age when written

New story idea! I'm not sure exactly where this is going, but I'll try to keep up with it enough to post a bit on Apricotpie every month. Most of my writing lately has been more along the lines of articles and essays for my blog, but I did have a new story idea the other day.


I like this! It has a good mood to it, and you've left me wanting to read more. My only critique is that in the beginning you did a lot of telling vs showing. I had no time to stop, but took a mental note of it but quickly forgot in the blur of classes, rehearsals, studying, and practice that made up the rest of my day. I This part needs a little work. I would take out the second 'but' and maybe condense the line a bit, however you think would be best. Also, at times the conversation seems a little formal for the setting. “Walter Eliot. I study music composition at Julliard. I – I hope you don’t mind – I saw this place was different this morning when I rode by and I stopped for a closer look.” Maybe have him reveal the fact that he studies music composition in a more subtle way, later on in the story. It's definitely an element that adds to his character.

Please post again soon! Like I said, I really like this!

I really like this! It definitely left me wanting more. It had a really nice feel to it. I hope you post more, because I want to know who Javi is :)

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I really like this! You need to post more often, Kyleigh, though. What about two times a month?

I love the setting of the story. But how about describing more about the outside surroundings outside the cafe? I don't know if you've ever been in NYC, but it would be interesting to see how you describe it.

I think Javi is her husband, and either he has passed away, or maybe he is away somewhere for some reason! I really enjoyed this. I'm waiting for more.

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm interested to see where you take this story! Ditto to Homey, maybe a bit more emotion words would help liven it up a bit.
I like it and can't wait to read more!

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
Write On!

I'm interested in where this story goes and look forward to reading the next part. You are going to be rather busy this month, though, so no rush. :)

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Like everybody else, this is really interesting! Old café's have always appealed to me, especially if the owners try to keep it rustic. Anyway, I agree with Homey about the telling vs showing.
Keep posting!!

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

This is wonderful Kyleigh. Of all the stories I have ever read on Apricotpie, this is by far the most interesting story. I can't wait to read more!!!! <3

"Even if the sun crashes into earth, I won't let go, I won't let go. I can be your light, stay with me tonight, I won't let go, I won't let go."

Thank you for all your comments! I worked on it a fair bit on the plane last month, so I have a couple more installments coming - but I wanted to post an edited first installment before doing any more. I tried working on show vs tell, but am having lots of trouble with it, because I feel that if I show more it gets tedious with little conversations or scenes rather than Walter just telling what happened. Any more thoughts on that?

I guess my thoughts are, yes, there are parts where there's telling instead of showing, but I have the same struggles when I try to write a story. I'll have the entire plot in my mind, and I'll have details of certain scenes that I really care about. But for all the other stuff in between, it's hard to write scenes showing it. I faced this problem when writing The Érenyel, and I continue to face this problem in another story I'm trying to write (and will hopefully put on Apricot Pie one of these days). My only advice is, just keep writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. And if you have to gloss over parts of it with "telling" instead of "showing", just do it. Apricot Pie is the kind of place where you have the freedom to do that. Perhaps in the future more details of the "telling" parts will become clearer in your mind, and then you can go back and flesh out some scenes to "show" what happened.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

I'm finally gonna catch up. And it's off to a great beginning, so I don't imagine it will take me long now that I've started. As for show vs tell, at this point I'm more interested in seeing you get your thoughts out and characters rolling before you worry too much about that. The prose is nice and tidy and engaging, and that's a good start.

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief